Posts Tagged ‘Florida League of Cities’

Vacation rentals de-reg bill passes House committee

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

A bill that would roll back all local ordinances and regulations of vacation rental houses to 2011 codes got a split-vote approval Tuesday from the House Agriculture & Property Rights Subcommittee.
The issue was fashioned as one pitting property rights — those of people or companies that buy houses and convert them into short-term vacation rental properties, versus those of neighbors who don’t like having small hotels pop up in their neighborhoods.
Senate Bill 425, presented by state Rep. Mike La Rosa of St. Cloud, would essentially ban cities and towns from treating vacation rental houses differently from any other houses in the neighborhoods. That was Florida law after a similar bill was signed in 2011, but much of that deregulation was rolled back in 2014 after cities and counties complained.
The ensuing regulation has gotten out of hand, La Rosa argued.
“We’ve seen an obscene amount of ordinances from local government, which basically, in my mind, is a property taking: You bought this property for a certain reason, but we’re going to pass all these ordinances preventing you from being able to rent that property.”
At stake is the rapid rise throughout Florida, but particularly in tourist areas, of single-home vacation rentals, fueled by such app-based advertising services as Airbnb and Home Away, which are funneling hundreds of thousands of Florida visitors into alternatives to hotels, motels and resorts. Alternatives typically with multiple bedrooms and baths, kitchens, yards and swimming pools.
Also at stake are cities and counties alarmed by vacation homes popping up anywhere, sometimes occupied for a few days at a time by quiet families from England, and sometimes by fraternity brothers looking for wild times with loud parties, lots of trash and numerous cars taking up the street curb.
Homes turned into vacation rentals are not homes anymore, argued opponents of the bill,

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Ridesharing bill advances 21-1 in Florida House Committee

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

A bill to create statewide regulations for ridesharing companies easily advanced in its last committee stop Tuesday in the Florida House, but not without some dissent from a handful of Democrats on the panel.
The bill (HB 221) is sponsored in the House by Tampa Republican Jamie Grant and Palm Harbor Republican Chris Sprowls, and officials with Uber and Lyft are hoping that this is finally the year that such legislation is finally passed.
The bill would require transportation network companies to have third parties conduct local and national criminal background checks on drivers. People would be prohibited from becoming rideshare drivers if they have three moving violations in the prior 3-year period; have been convicted of a felony within the previous five years; or have been convicted of a misdemeanor charge of sexual assault, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, hit and run, or attempting to flee a law enforcement officer within the past five years.
It also calls for drivers to carry insurance coverage worth $50,000 for death and bodily injury per person, $100,000 for death and bodily injury per incident and $25,000 for property damage when picking up passengers. Coverage would jump to a minimum of $1 million in coverage in the case of death, bodily injury and property damage while a passenger is in the vehicle.
The bill also tells local governments they cannot set their own conflicting regulations, which is why the Florida League of Cities opposes it.
All told, 21 of the 22 members of the House Committee on Government Accountability supported the bill. The lone dissenter was Miami Gardens Democrat Barbara Watson, who said she has severe concerns about safety, specifically taking issue with the fact that background checks on ride-sharing drivers will only take place every three years. “This bill is lacking in so many ways,” she said. “So many public safety issues are brought to bear.”
Broward County Democrat Kristen Diane Jacobs said she continues to consider the

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Jeff Brandes files bill to create affordable housing task force

Friday, February 10th, 2017

A Senate bill filed this week would create a task force to address the state’s affordable housing needs.
The bill (SB 854), filed Friday by Sen. Jeff Brandes, would create an affordable housing task force assigned to the Florida Housing Finance Corp. According to the St. Petersburg Republican’s proposal, the task force would be charged with “developing recommendations for addressing the state’s affordable housing needs.”
With an another 5 million people expected to be living in Florida by 2030, Brandes said he filed the bill because he thinks there needs to be discussion about how the state approaches workforce housing and affordable housing going forward.
“There really isn’t a statewide direction for affordable housing,” said Brandes.
The proposal calls for a 10-member board made up of the executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, or her designee; two members appointed by the Governor, two members appointed by the Senate President; two members appointed by the House Speakers; the executive director of the Florida Association of Counties, or a designee; the executive director of the Florida League of Cities, or a designee; and the executive director of the Florida Housing Finance Corp., who will serve as the board chairman.
Members of the task force will not be compensated, but would receive per diem travel expenses as spelled out under state law.
The goal, Brandes said, is to “take a holistic view” of affordable and workforce housing.
According to his proposal, the committee would be tasked with making a recommendation that includes reviews of market rate developments; affordable housing developments; land use for affordable housing developments; building codes for affordable housing developments; states’ implementation of the low-income housing tax credit; private and public sector development and construction industries; and rental market for assisted rental housing.
The bill also calls on the task for to develop “strategies and pathways for

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Public records bill barely gets out of first committee

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

A bill that would give judges discretion to award attorney fees in public records lawsuits squeaked out of its first review panel Tuesday.
The Senate’s Governmental Oversight and Accountability cleared the bill (SB 80) by a 4-3 vote. It goes next to the Community Affairs Committee.
The measure changes the word “shall” to “may” regarding courts awarding legal fees when an “agency (has) unlawfully refused to permit a public record … to be inspected or copied.”
It would also require a “complainant (to) provide written notice of the public records request to the agency’s custodian of public records at least 5 business days before” suing. Records requests are not normally mandated to be in writing.
The idea is to cut down on the number of “frivolous” lawsuits at taxpayer expense by eliminating guaranteed attorney fees in cases where public officials made an honest mistake, say bill advocates, including the Florida League of Cities.
Open government watchdogs, such as the First Amendment Foundation, have countered that the bill would instead chill legitimate actions against local governments and state agencies that unreasonably refuse to respond to record requests.
Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican and lawyer who is sponsoring the proposal, backed a version of the bill last session when he was a state representative. It passed the Senate unanimously but died in the House.
A House companion (HB 163) would require judges to make specific findings before they can award attorney fees in public records lawsuits.
It would require a judge to determine that a public agency “unlawfully refused to permit a public record to be inspected or copied” and that the complainant “provided written notice identifying the public record request to the agency’s custodian … at least five business days before filing the civil action.”
That bill also says attorney fees can’t be awarded if the court finds “the request to inspect or copy the public record was made primarily to harass the

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Bill again targets attorney fees in public records cases

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

A bill that would give judges the discretion to award attorney fees in public records lawsuits was refiled Wednesday in the Florida Legislature.
New state Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican and lawyer, is again behind the legislation (SB 80). He backed a version of the bill last session as a state representative. It passed the Senate unanimously but died in the House.
The measure changes the word “shall” to “may” regarding courts awarding legal fees when an “agency (has) unlawfully refused to permit a public record … to be inspected or copied.”
It would also require a “complainant (to) provide written notice of the public records request to the agency’s custodian of public records at least 5 business days before” suing. Records requests are not normally mandated to be in writing.
The idea is to cut down on the number of “frivolous” lawsuits at taxpayer expense by eliminating guaranteed attorney fees in cases where public officials made an honest mistake, bill advocates have said, including the Florida League of Cities.
Open government watchdogs, such as the First Amendment Foundation, have countered that the bill would instead affect legitimate actions against local governments and state agencies that unreasonably refuse to respond to record requests.
 
The post Bill again targets attorney fees in public records cases appeared first on Florida Politics.

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